[Artemis speaks] The cornel-trees uplift from the furrows, the roots at their bases strike lower through the barley-sprays. So arise and face me. I am poisoned with the rage of song. I once pierced the flesh of the wild-deer, now am I afraid to touch the blue and the gold-veined hyacinths? I will tear the full flowers and the little heads of the grape-hyacinths. I will strip the life from the bulb until the ivory layers lie like narcissus petals on the black earth. Arise, lest I bend an ash-tree into a taut bow, and slay—and tear all the roots from the earth. The cornel-wood blazes and strikes through the barley-sprays, but I have lost heart for this. I break a staff. I break the tough branch. I know no light in the woods. I have lost pace with the winds.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 29, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“Orion Dead” appeared in Some Imagist Poets: An Anthology (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1915).
Born in 1886, Hilda Doolittle was one of the leaders of the Imagist movement. She published numerous poetry collections, including Sea Garden (Constable and Company, 1916) and Helen in Egypt (Grove Press, 1961). She died in 1961.
Date Published: 1915-12-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/orion-dead